By Tim Jimenez , Trang Do and Greg Argos
PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — American women are staying home from work, zipping up their wallets, wearing red and attending rallies across the country to show their economic strength and impact on society as part of International Women’s Day celebrations happening across the globe Wednesday.
“A Day Without a Woman” is the first major action by organizers of the Women’s March since the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, when millions of women poured into the streets in protest of misogyny, inequality and oppression.
In Philadelphia, teachers are using the day to bring attention to the five years they’ve been working without a contract. About two dozen people picketed outside of H.A. Brown Elementary Wednesday morning. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said it’s an issue that affects thousands of women.
“We need to prove that we are a big part of this economy and a big part of this nation so I’m glad that we can stand together today and speak on behalf of that,” said Keren Tal, co-dean of students at H.A. Brown.
Seventy-five percent of PFT’s members are women. Working without a contract, teachers like Mark Mena said they’ve been subjected to a pay freeze and have lost out on tens of thousands of dollars in raises they were promised.
“People are out $10,000-$15,000 and they’re leaving the city,” said Mena, a fourth grade teacher at Brown. “They’re leaving the district for the other districts.”
Tal said she’s even had to take up a second job.
“I can barely afford my bills at the moment, so I started driving Uber, and I’ve been using it to supplement my income so I can use it for the kids here,” she said.
At a school breakfast event at H.A. Brown, Superintendent Dr. William Hite said the contract impasse is not due to a lack of effort on either side.
“The teachers’ union wants a contract, the mayor wants a contract, I want a contract,” he said.
Hite said the school district has an $150 million offer on the table.
“We put that on the table, but we also need to understand that we will not put the future of the district in peril by agreeing to things that we will not be able to fund down the road,” he said.
The PFT held additional informational protests at schools across the city.
The road to opening Mac Mart in Center City has not been easy for owner, Marti Lieberman.
“There are always people that are going to give you a challenger because you’re a woman or you’re younger, so there is definitely some pushback,” says Lieberman. “If you are lucky enough to have made it into a spot in Center City and keep your business going, I mean let along also being a woman. I think that really says something.”
City Councilwoman Helen Gym says two-thirds of her staff is off today because of the strike, and she’s wearing red on the job.
“To acknowledge all the work women do paid and unpaid to keep this country going,” Gym said.
Phoebe Jones, an organizer of the women’s strike activities in Philadelphia, says a “new feminism” is sweeping the country.”
“This is the feminism of the 99 percent. The ones who are making everything happen. Not just getting women into positions of power or the boardroom. No, this is the grassroots,” Jones said.
More than 200 people gathered for a rally in Logan Square in Center City.
Organizer Anna Barnett says they had one goal in mind.
“We’re fighting to lift all women up,” says Barnett.
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday and asked followers to join him in “honoring the critical role of women” in the U.S. and around the world. He tweeted that he has “tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.”
Ivanka Trump echoed her father’s sentiments, tweeting: “Today, we celebrate women and are reminded of our collective voice and the powerful impact we have on our societies and economies.”
Unlike the Women’s March, Wednesday’s U.S. protests focus on the absence of women, who are being steered to local rallies and community groups and away from work or shopping in stores or online. Organizers also are asking women to wear red to signify love and sacrifice.
In New York, organizers are planning a gathering in Central Park. International Women’s Day rallies also are planned in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Washington and Berkeley, California.
Some businesses and institutions have said they will either close or give female employees the day off.
School districts including Prince George’s County in Maryland, the Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina have canceled classes in anticipation of employee participation. In Utah, as many as 1,000 women are expected to gather at the Capitol to remind lawmakers they are watching their actions on women’s issues.
In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court plans to close because the demonstration in the city would leave the court without enough staff to open. Lovely Monkey Tattoo, a female-owned tattoo parlor in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, is offering female-centric tattoos with messages like, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” for $50 to $100, with proceeds going to the Ann Arbor chapter of Planned Parenthood.
The role of women in American society is significant. According to the U.S. Census, women make up more than 47 percent of the workforce and are dominant in professions including registered nurses, dental assistants, cashiers, accountants and pharmacists. They make up at least a third of physicians and surgeons, as well as lawyers and judges. Women also represent 55 percent of all college students.
Still, American women continue to be paid less than men, earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. The median income for women was $40,742 in 2015, compared with $51,212 for men, according to census data.
CBS3’s Trang Do and KYW Newsradio’s Tim Jimenez contributed to the report.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)